Zeitgeist

Zeit·geist = spirit, essence of a particular time

A collection of food-for-thought posts and articles on technology, business, leadership and management. 

El NO no existe - NO doesn't exist: Kike Sarasola at #BIF11

Impresionante speech de Kike Sarasola en el BlackBerry Innovation Forum, llevado a píldora videostory.... El Cliente es DIOS!! Awesome speech from Kike Sarasola, Room Mate hotels chain owner and CEO, at BlackBerry Innovation Forum in Madrid, in a 2 min videostory format... Customer is GOD!!

http://youtu.be/5ISIrLLrUJw

Ranking of best executives 2011, Spain: el Economista

Last Tuesday, the financial newspaper el Economista published the ranking of best executives in Spain. A yearly public poll comprising main sectors of the industry. By mistake, or by chance (can't find myself any other reasonable cause), I was included in the pool of telecom's candidates.

Thanks to people voting, and more importantly, to those who didn't vote me. Both groups made the poll come to an unforeseen result, taking my candidature to the second position right between the winner, Johan Andsjo, CEO of Yoigo, and Mr. Cesar Alierta, president of Telefonica

An honor to be included in this ranking among top tier individuals like Francisco Roman (President, Vodafone Spain) or Jose Maria Castellano (CEO at ONO, the fixed carrier).

Apologies to all candidates and other excellent professionals (not included in the survey), for irreverent intrusion. (I really felt like stepping in somebody else's house).

As usual, there is a root cause to this. Masha Lloyd's entry in Facebook, last Sunday, sparked the whole thing. Masha is Yoigo's comms director, ex-colleague and British friend (the adjective is important here).

Her FB entry brought to my attention this survey, and, my name was in the candidate list, ... and, there was race, ... and, I had a PC in front of me with an empty twitter status...

Online polling is a matter of interest to me. I do believe there is a great opportunity turning 'analog' voting into an online, digital process with smartphones (I'll talk about this in the future).

Surprisingly, web polls are still rudimentary and they still miss many of the social aspects around the process, not to mention poor implementation for mobile access. For instance:

- The race to the Top:

Since the very first moment when the web poll starts, and once a critical mass of votes is reached, there is a polarization process towards the two leading candidates. Typically, the minimum critical mass is around 20% of all voters. At the end, there is a one to one fight between these two. Voters are influenced and tend to vote one or the other, diluting any possibilities for the remaining candidates (the same effect we see in politics, there is a symmetric pattern).

Votes turn to be conditioned rather than impulsive, despite the fact you couldn't see the web poll status at first sight, hidden behind the click to a button.

- Campaign elections:

On Sunday, as I was on a budget, I ran my own campaign on a PC, with a pack of donuts, a twitter account, my facebook page and linkedin.

First lesson, candidate influence is key. It is not the same to see a candidate list in el Economista web page than receiving a personal request to participate directly from one of the candidates. The P2P (Person to Person) approach increases favorability significantly (this explains the huge investments from political parties around candidate roadshows, make sense now to me).

My initial strategy on Sunday, phase 1, was pretty straight forward, spread the word and reach as many people as possible to increase participation in the poll (without conditioning the voters) as I was confident my candidature had higher awareness and better attributes than many other competitors (we made record sales of BlackBerry this year in Spain, among other things). It was all about leveraging on brand awareness.

It worked nicely. A critical mass of votes came in the next 48 hours, climbing from 10th to the 4th position, overtaking Paco Roman (paradoxically), and, from there reaching the 3rd place, tailgating Mr. Cesar Alierta in 2nd position at that moment.

Moving into phase 2, from Wednesday onwards, the polarization effect started after Mr. Alierta was relegated to the 3rd place (I really hope he doesn't take it into consideration) and all I needed to do was to close the gap with the winner who, the previous day, multiplied his votes (and I am saying 'multiplied' instead of 'added' for reasons Masha will understand for sure).

On Wednesday I withdrew my personal campaign and let the long tail effect do the rest. We ended up in s-e-c-o-n-d place finally, contrary to all expectations.

As a conclusion, short term marketing strategies do really work and they definitively play a role towards the elections result.

- Online influence:

This is a controversial statement: I do think democratic elections need to evolve and differentiate votes. They should factor in contextual parameters both for candidates and voters, and include metrics like voter influence (klout) or professional competencies (linkedin), applicable, for instance, in the case referred here in this post.

From an user experience point of view, this information should be presented visually, and dynamically in real time, comprising candidate comparisons and voters comparison as well (yes, I envision a Cascades' based interface running on PlayBook doing all of this).

In this way, 'technical' or vertical polls, as in this case, selecting best executives of a given sector, will become more genuine, much more valuable, with voters taking informed decisions, avoiding alterations of the election's course from technofreaks running ego-driven, unconventional digital marketing tactics (although truth to be told, perfectly valid).

Merry Xmas

 

(Written on a plane from London to Madrid with a BlackBerry 9900)

WebCongress Madrid

WebCongress en su edicion de Madrid ha sido hoy, en el IMAX, impresionante ver las slides proyectadas a tamaño cine. Las palabras parecian Arial 524. Como siempre un placer participar y trabajar con OualiMassimo y Gladys, sobre todo por que permiten que los que vamos nos tomemos ciertas licencias de contenidos y formas que se salen del circuito habitual.

Otra cosa que he aprendido, intercalando chistes graficos con slides numericas sesudas (emocional - racional - emocional) parece que consigo que la gente me entienda mejor, (y si dejo las slides en ingles claro, ademas la gente lo respeta mas).

Para muestra un boton, no os perdais la penultima slide con el chiste de cierre sobre internet aqui:

[slideshare id=10419510&doc=webcongressmadrid2011efernandez-111201112529-phpapp01]

Anecdoticamente, tuvimos un encendido debate al final como casi siempre originado por los efectos del RDT (Reality Distorsion Field) que los medios anglosajones o americanos ejercen, lamentablemente, sobre el resto de culturas.

Se arreglo con cuatro datos (hechos) de mercado y sus referencias a los analistas correspondientes, pero no deja de ser sorprendente lo facil que es caer en demagogia en un mundo donde cada vez es mas complicado convencer a la gente de que analice los hechos y la informacion.

Y para terminar, una rapida entrevista en Radio 4, en el programa Cafe o Te, puede venir bien para acelerarse o relajarse, segun se mire.

 

Cloud Computing o "la Nube"

Carlos Ruiz me envió este enlace a su blog acerca de Cloud Computing, un gran trabajo y un profundo análisis de este mercado en el contexto telco. Aprovechando la coyuntura, y ya que tenía previsto hacerlo de todas maneras, quería mencionar cierta peculiaridad de RIM que poca gente conoce. A RIM se la conoce por sus afamadas BlackBerries, prolíficos dispositivos que se hicieron mundialmente famosos por el correo electrónico en movilidad. Sin embargo, el verdadero ADN de RIM no esta ahí, tanto las BlackBerries, como el propio servicio de correo electrónico surgieron después.

El verdadero origen de RIM fue habilitar un canal de datos de "vuelta" (o de subida) en los albores del GSM, básicamente se trataba de dotar a los archipopulares buscas o "pagers" de los 90 de un canal de retorno de datos que permitiese ahorrarse los abultados costes de las llamadas de larga distancia en USA.

Para los más jóvenes: un busca o beeper es básicamente, un dispositivo celular con una pequeña pantalla que recibe y muestra un mensaje corto, a la vez que un aviso sonoro (beep), cuyo texto es enviado a través de una red móvil específica. Se usaba para localizar a la gente, (de hay su apodo) que al recibir el aviso, corrían (corríamos) al teléfono fijo más cercano para devolver la llamada a la oficina (los móviles todavía no estaban popularizados, GSM estaba empezando a comercializarse).

Si se consiguiese habilitar un canal de retorno de tal forma que se pudiese responder desde el busca, supondría un ahorro enorme en costes de llamadas de larga distancia (buena oportunidad de negocio que Mike Lazaridis supo identificar rápidamente).

Se requería de un servidor en la nube y su correspondiente capa de software que gestionase (insisto, desde la nube) aquel canal de retorno de datos, y proporcionase ese servicio de respuesta a los "pagers".

Pero claro, una vez que tienes el servicio en marcha, necesitas facilitar la tarea de responder desde el busca a los usuarios, así que, ¿por qué no ponerle un teclado a un pager?... En ese momento, nació la primera BlackBerry, consecuencia necesaria para poder usar el servicio en la nube.

RIM ha sido empresa pionera en los servicios desde la nube, es su core competence y su principal ventaja competitiva. Ventaja que le permite facturar mas de un 20% de sus revenues solo por ese concepto, servicios.

A continuación unas definiciones básicas sobre Cloud Computing y una descripción rápida de muchas de las cosas que RIM hace desde la nube, soportado por su infraestructura, la que proporciona el servicio BlackBerry y que como en Star Trek - the motion picture, arrancó como el primer voyager hace mas de una década y media y se ha convertido ya en una gran red global que gestiona mas de 22 Petabytes al mes (en la pélicula el voyager 6 vuelve a la tierra en forma de gigantesca nave hipertecnológicamente avanzada). - What is "Cloud Computing"?

The basic definition is leveraging non-local computing resources on-demand to deliver valuable experiences faster, cheaper and more flexibly.

- What technologies make up Cloud Computing?

The common technical jargon splits companies, technologies and innovation as follows:

- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):  The ability to rapidly add, remove and repurpose servers.  This is an approach we do and are investing further in in the NOC of RIM.

- Platform as a Service (PaaS):  Further split into Cloud Compute (processing) and Cloud Storage (data housing).  Push, BEAM, the App World Vendor Portal and our Ad service are examples of Compute and as a Storage service, Protect provides the beginning of it.

- Data as a Service (DaaS): Basically structured data that can be pulled for various purposes.

- Software as a Service (SaaS): App elements that can be embedded in other things.  This usually applies to Web environments, but the BBID agent, Ad SDK, BBM Social Platform and Universal Search all serve this end.

- Why does it matter?

The first reason is that Users are becoming accustomed to "multi-screen", persistent experiences, as has been driven by Web 2.0.  The second is that by processing remotely, the computing costs go way down so more innovative and richer things can be offered.

- What role does RIM play?

The three things we need to think about are:

- Meeting Users' expectations for Cloud-based / multi-screen experiences

- Supporting our B2B Partners and Customers (Developers, CIOs)  who require Cloud connectivity for their businesses

- Leveraging our Cloud investments to help more things Users find valuable every day fit better with Mobile

- Why are we good at it?

RIM made a head start and, over the course of more than a decade, they have optimized, and continue to optimize, connectivity on the BlackBerry smartphones.

Leadership in efficiency, platform standards, immediacy and security all are integral to The Cloud + Mobile.  So, RIM has more than 70M subscribers of the BlackBerry Cloud today,  passing more than 22 Petabytes of data, per month, through RIM's APN / Relay infraestructure.

- What is the current Cloud proposition?

For Consumers:

- BlackBerry ID: User's credentials and Profile stored in RIM Cloud to be leveraged to identify the User to various applications (integration with the entire portfolio).  More importantly, as we proceed with integration, this will enable us to accelerate, expand and enrich the Cloud offer

- BlackBerry Protect: backs up User's data remotely, allows remote administration

- App World: Users' purchase history is loaded to the cloud so that it can persist across device switches

- Payments service: Users' "wallet" (choice of Payment instrument) stored in the cloud, pulled on demand, payment processed remotely as well

- BIS Email: Users' Email account associations are stored in the cloud; the cloud processes both push of messages and message status back to the source

- Gist and Tungle: Users' contacts and calendar data from multiple sources sent to the cloud, aggregated and sent back down.  Updates pulled on demand.  Also, a true multi-screen experience with smartphone and tablet apps and Web interfaces.

- BBM: Users can back up their Contact Lists to the cloud for easy recovery.

- BlackBerry News: Catalogue of Feeds is stored and served from RIM Cloud, User subscriptions are served as are User-targeted recommendations

- BlackBerry Maps: Map data is served up efficiently remotely, PoI data constantly updated

- BlackBerry Travel: User's travel plans are sent up to the cloud, processes, returned to the device as data for the app, then the cloud processes and sends updates to the device in real-time

- BlackBerry Traffic: The cloud processes travel time based on crowdsourced data sent to the cloud, and provides changes in real-time

- Podcasts: Users' subscriptions are stored in the cloud for persistent history

- BlackBerry Radio: Radio catalogue is pulled from RIM Cloud

- WebSL: Browser-based console talks to RIM Cloud to obtain and pull down software updates for the device

For Enterprises:

- Office 365 integration: RIM Cloud-hosted interface to MSFT Cloud Email with management capabilities

-  BlackBerry Management Center: Web-based Admin console for SMB devices, processed through RIM Cloud and the Internet

For Developers:

- Push Service: Allows a Developer to store registered devices in RIM cloud, send push requests to it and have RIM process and forward to the device

- BBM Social Platform: Exposes the Consumer BBM proposition to embed in apps

- Location Service: Allows a Developer to query the RIM Cloud to find return the User's current address (or lat-long associated with an address)

- App World Vendor portal: Allows a Developer to load applications / in-app content, determine status of submission and approval and performance of their content in market

- Ad Service: Allows a Developer to request ads from the cloud to embed in applications

- Analytics Service: Provides a mechanism to send app usage data to the cloud so that the Developer can view and process aggregate reports

- BEAM: Leverages the RIM cloud to intermediate and process data sync, push and sharing between devices, apps and Enterprise data stores

- Browser Proxy: Server-side processing of Web data for faster and more efficient delivery to the device Browser

(One interesting nugget about RIM's approach to the Cloud that differentiates them from the other smartphone platforms is that their strength in connectivity allows Developers to build richer applications, rather than just focusing on non-connected device experiences.)

Many Partner Cloud experiences and offerings are effectively mobilized by RIM's unique technology:

- Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, LinkedIn, YouTube

- Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk

- Bing, Wikipedia, Dictionary.com

- eBay, Amazon, PayPal, numerous financial institutions

- Yelp, OpenTable, Urban Spoon, Fandango, Ticketmaster

- Airlines and travel companies

- SAP, Salesforce

- Social games and high score servers

- and many more

Cloud products coming:

- BBM Music: Song catalogue stored in the cloud, as well as ratings, comments and playlists, facilitating the social sharing of music